How to Use FaceTime on Your iPhone with iOS 12
If you don’t make use of FaceTime on your iPhone, you’re missing out. Think of all the people who will want to see you, such as an old college roommate living halfway around the world, grandparents living miles away (okay, they really want to see your newborn), or a former flame living in a distant location.
Fortunately, using FaceTime is as easy as making a regular call on the iPhone. Plus, FaceTime comes with at least two major benefits besides the video:
- FaceTime calls don’t count against your regular minutes, though they will count against your data plan allotment if you make these calls over a cellular connection.
- The audio quality on FaceTime calls, at least those over Wi-Fi, can be superior to a regular cellphone connection.
But FaceTime also has a couple of major caveats:
- Both you and the party you’re talking to must have an iPhone 4 or later model, an iPad 2 or later model, a Mac computer, or a 4th-generation or later iPod touch. (Okay, so maybe that’s not much of a caveat after all — the list of compatible devices keeps growing.) Note that Skype, among others, also lets you make video calls on the iPhone over a much broader range of devices.
- Both you and the caller at the other end must access Wi-Fi or a robust cellular connection because the quality of the experience depends on a solid connection. (FaceTime over cellular isn’t available for the iPhone 4 or iPad 2. And FaceTime Audio calling isn’t available on the 4th-generation iPod touch.)
If you meet the requirements, here’s how to make FaceTime happen on your iPhone:
- The first time you make a FaceTime call to another iPhone, dial the person’s regular iPhone number as usual. Or better yet, tap the FaceTime app. Use an email address instead if you’re using FaceTime to call an iPod touch, an iPad, or a Mac.
- If you did start out with a regular call and you’ve broached the subject of going video, you can tap the FaceTime icon. A few seconds later, the other person gets the option to decline or accept the FaceTime invitation by tapping the red button or the green button, respectively. If on a Lock screen, the person can slide to answer. If the call is accepted, you’ll need to wait a few seconds before you can see the other person. As with other calls, the person can also decline with a text message or ask to be reminded to get back in touch later.
You can also use the Siri voice assistant to make a FaceTime call. Just ask Siri to “FaceTime with Dad” or whomever else you’d want to engage in a video call, and Siri will make the proper arrangements.
When someone requests FaceTime with you, you’ll appreciate being able to politely decline a FaceTime call. Cool as it can be to see and be seen, ask yourself if you really want to be seen, say, when you just get out of bed or before your morning coffee.
Search for any FaceTime calls you previously made by tapping an entry for that call in Recents. The iPhone knows to take the call straight to video, though of course the person you’re talking to has to accept the invitation each time. You can do FaceTime also by tapping a pal’s listings in Contacts.
So what is a FaceTime call like? Typically a gleeful experience. Not only are you seeing the other person, but also the quality of the video is typically good. You also see your own mug (and maybe whoever else is in the room with you) in a small picture-in-picture (PiP) window, which you can drag to a corner of the screen. The PiP image represents what the other person sees, so it’s a good way of knowing, short of the other person telling you, if your face has dropped out of the frame.
You can use FaceTime in portrait or landscape mode. You might find it easier to bring another person into a scene in landscape mode.
Apple says that the front camera has been fine-tuned for FaceTime usage, which in photography-speak means the camera has the proper field of view and focal length. But at times, you’ll want to employ the iPhone’s main camera (or dual camera in the case of the 7 Plus, 8 Plus, X, XS, and XS Max models) on the rear to best show off your surroundings and give the caller an idea of where you are. To toggle between the front and main cameras, tap the camera icon.
If you want to mute a FaceTime video call, tap the microphone icon with the slash running through it. The caller won’t be able to hear you but can continue to see you.
If you have an iPhone X, XS, XS Max, or XR model,, you can add cartoonish animojis and memojis. And you can add shapes, filters, arrows, and even text during a FaceTime call. Tap the icon that resembles a star to get going.
Although many FaceTime calls commence with a regular AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, or Verizon call, you can’t go from FaceTime to an audio-only call without hanging up and redialing. In the past, if you dropped a FaceTime call because of a Wi-Fi hiccup or some other problem, you had to redial via FaceTime or your provider, depending on whether you wanted the call to be video or only audio.
You can make FaceTime audio-only calls too. Tap the FaceTime app icon, tap the name or number you want to call, and then tap the Audio (as opposed to Video) button, which indicates you want to make a FaceTime call without the face. Nope, this feature hasn’t been named EarTime. From the FaceTime app, you can also designate FaceTime favorites (audio or video), and make FaceTime calls in the Recents log of the Phone app.
To block all FaceTime calls, tap Settings from the Home screen, tap FaceTime, and make sure the FaceTime switch is off. If you can’t find the FaceTime button or wonder why you’re not getting FaceTime calls, go back to Settings and make sure this option is turned on. While you’re in FaceTime Settings, note that you can list one or more email addresses by which a caller can reach you for a video call, along with your iPhone’s phone number.
If you want to momentarily check out another iPhone app while on a FaceTime call, press the Home button (or swipe up on the iPhone X, XR, XS, or XS models) and then tap the icon for the app you have in mind. At this point, you can still talk over FaceTime, but you’ll no longer see the person. Tap the green bar at the top of the screen to bring the person back in front of you.
Group FaceTime in iOS 12
FaceTime video calls used to be a one-to-one experience. With iOS 12, Apple added a group FaceTime feature that lets you chat and see — get this — up to 32 people at once. You can begin a FaceTime call with multiple people or add people once a call has commenced. As you might imagine, the more people who are added to a Group FaceTime, the smaller the boxes on the screen that show those people.
The easiest way to initiate a Group FaceTime call is to initiate a group chat in the Messages app.
And there you have it. That’s FaceTime, one of the neatest features in the iPhone.